SMITH: Thanksgiving is a joyous occasion

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving is always a joyous occasion for family and friends to gather and enjoy fellowship and the fruits of the bounty. We have so much to be thankful for in this country it can hardly be expressed in just one day. However, as we all gather around the table whether at home or someone else’s home, it should be with a thankful heart and soul for the blessings of life and its creator and provider, Almighty God.

According to sources, “Thanksgiving dinner is the largest eating event in the United States; people eat more on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year.” There is an abundance of tradition wrapped up in this holiday dating back to the Plymouth Colony in 1621. During the first winter of 1620-1621 many of the 102 original Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower perished from scurvy and malnutrition. They arrived in November 1620 too late to plant crops and only about half survived the horrible winter. Remarkable, when the Mayflower returned to England the following spring, not a single remaining Pilgrim deserted Plymouth.

Credit is duly given to the Wampanoag tribe and Squanto of the Pawtuxet tribe for their assistance in the survival of the Plymouth Colony. Squanto could speak English due to having spent some time in England as a slave before escaping and returning on an exploratory expedition. He, more than any, was credited with saving the settlers from sure disaster in the first year here. The first crop season in the autumn of 1621 was successful and the colonists with their invited guests Chief Massasoit, Squanto and other Wampanoag tribesmen gathered to observe the English tradition of Harvest Festival. There were roughly 90 Wampanoag tribesmen and the remaining 50 colonists (numbers vary) in attendance according to U.S. History.org. The festival lasted for several days and they dined on venison, goose, duck, turkey, fish, mussels and a thick corn mush or porridge made from the abundant harvest of corn. The Wampanoag guest provided five deer and colony Governor William Bradford sent out a fowling party to gather feathered game for the event.

Enough about food and eating, Americans today know full well how to celebrate a holiday and to eat too much. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated individually by states or colonies. It was President Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving a national celebration in 1863. There were many date changes in November along the way until eventually settled to the fourth Thursday of November each year.  On Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday of November each year.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and give thanks in all circumstances. We are thankful for all our military personnel serving both near and far. We are thankful for our law enforcement officers who are on the front lines at home.. Also, thankful for all of our first responders, physicians, nurses, hospitals, and all who serve selflessly the needs of others.

I’m even thankful for the trash pickup this week on our street. It was the first in several weeks.

Thessalonians 5:18 – “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”